Things I miss: The Swanson TV Dinner


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TV dinners were the original molecular gastronomy. I think everyone has a soft spot for them. Now they are a real cultural artifact from back when a meal meant a meat serving, two vegetables and a dessert. I don’t even think school lunches do this anymore.

Now we have Internet dinners where you can arrange internet delivery and Ikea dinners where they’ll deliver a dinner kit that you can assemble using only a screwdriver.


Wow. I’ll add this to the ever-growing list of things I never thought I’d miss.


My dad worked at a hospital when I was a kid and the plan was always that we would go in to the hospital with him and hang out in the lounge and eat TV dinners and watch TV if he ever got called in. It was at a time when we had no TV at home, and we got the Swansons right off the truck, so while it was a fall back plan for my parents, for us it was the platonic ideal, and we prayed for that call.


There is, of course, still the Hungryman TV dinners that offer a generous entree, ONE decent vegetable at least, and a brownie desert. Too much sodium, of course, but they taste decent and get you full.


I just had a microwave Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pie for lunch.

We also had TV trays at home. Miss those things.


We’ve gone from meat/starch/veggie/dessert to just meat/starch or veggie/dessert. People’s idea of a balanced diet have changed, but they haven’t eliminated dessert.


Now you’re just being ridiculous! IKEA dinners use an Allen key!






I have a set of those next to my Armjanskoller.


I wanted to try the Apple and Samsung dinners, but they just came in a sealed plastic boxes you couldn’t open. But at least I could plug my earphones into the Samsung dinner.


And a Pozidriv! Whatever you do, don’t use a Phillips.


I had one, but the cat tipped the Plantensoilholder over on it.


I still have one of those fold-up TV dinner tables you can sit in front of you. I use it sometimes to put my laptop on and sit outside at night and enjoy the cool Autumn air while using Wi-Fi signal.


So, are these dinners no longer available? Or do you simply miss buying them?

Perhaps I should call them “Swansong” dinners.


Mostly I remember just how awful the vegetables in them were…


They still make them, and I’ve certainly seen them. Though judging from their website they’re only available in Canada ATM. Hungryman, if it was ever a Swanson brand, isn’t now. And is one of the default TV dinners in the US.


They still make them, but I haven’t seen them in years – last time I saw one was in Montreal. The Hungry Man dinners are more or less the same, though more plentiful, and lately they’ve gotten all fancy with stuff like Chicken & Waffles and Chicken Fajitas. But you can still get the classic crappy-but-somehow-great fried chicken and salisbury steak, complete with the hockey puck of brownie.


The vegetables were good for what they were. The potatoes were truly awful. They were these dehydrated potato flakes that didn’t really taste like everything, and cooked inconsistently so that they were alternating bites of ice and boiling.

Is there a word for something that I thought was horrible at the time but now kind of miss?